Who said: "A few books well chosen, and well made use of, will be more profitable than a great confused Alexandrian library."

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"A few books well chosen, and well made use of, will be more profitable than a great confused Alexandrian library" - Thomas Fuller Introductio ad Prudentiam

Thomas FullerDr Thomas Fuller M.D (1654-1734) was educated at Queens' College, Cambridge and practiced medicine in Sevenoaks, Kent. He is remembered for his two compilations of proverbs, Introductio ad Sapientiam and Introductio ad Prudentiam, and for the later Gnomologia - a massive compilation of proverbs and aphorisms. It is said that Benjamin Franklin used Gnomologia as a source for some of the sayings in Poor Richard's Almanac.

Gnomology is not, as some might think, the study of popular garden ornaments, nor for that matter is it the study of the diminutive mythical spirits which apparently inspire the former. A gnomologist is one who collects maxims, proverbs or aphorisms which, individually, can be referred to as gnomes – from the Greek for thought or judgment.

During medieval times it became popular for the learned to put together collections of sayings and memorable thoughts – the publishing of these reached its height during the Renaissance when books of proverbs became popular. In fact, gnomology has remained popular to this day - the ubiquitous pocket diaries and calendars filled with inspirational sayings found so widely these days, whether biblical quotes or Dilbert cartoons, all trace their roots to these first gnomologies.


Confusingly, there are two notable, quotable Thomas Fullers: The Thomas Fuller quoted above (1654-1734); and Thomas Fuller (1608-1661), an English preacher, historian, and scholar.

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